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Scarborough, Maine - September 1, 2019 ...Just two days after Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones wrapped up their latest American tour in Miami, a harness racing horse named McJagersOnTheMove made a sparkling debut at Scarborough Downs on Sunday (9/1) while equaling the all-age track record in a brilliant 1:52.3 performance. Fresh off an eye-popping 1:52.3 score at the Windsor (Maine) Fair, the seven-year-old son of McArdle-Grand Fancy appeared destined for a more pedestrian journey on Sunday, gliding to the quarter in an easy 28.3 before catching a breather to the half in 57.1. With an almost imperceptible shifting of gears though, he began to separate himself from the field just past the half before reaching the three-quarter mile marker in a breathtaking 1:24.3. Perhaps sensing an epic in the making, driver Drew Campbell, who had sat prone in the sulky up to that point, began to ask the horse for just a bit more. The horse gamely responded in the affirmative, pacing his final panel in a smart 28 seconds, completing an astounding 55.2 back-half clocking, and romping home over 30-lengths the best to etch his name in the storied annuls of Scarborough Downs. McJagersOnTheMove who is trained by Frank Petrelli for owner Marissa Russo of Eden, NY, equaled the track record that was set by the Drew Campbell driven JJs Jet in the 2018 edition of Scarborough's Mid-Summer Classic. Ironically, JJs Jet was on hand in the race paddock to witness his track record being equaled after winning for the 53rd time in his career just two races prior. The win was one of six on Sunday's card for driver Drew Campbell, who effectively fortified his position atop the leader's board with the devastatingly powerful performance. Live harness racing will continue next weekend at Scarborough Downs with a 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight card on Saturday followed by the popular 1:30 pm Sunday matinee performance, all leading up to the closing day of the summer meet which is slated for September 14th. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - August 18, 2019 ...The freshman trotters of the Maine Sire Stakes program reached the mid-way point of their eight race season on Sunday (8/18) and as both the fillies and colts duked it out on the half-mile oval at Scarborough Downs, harness racing driver Heath Campbell, with two stakes win on the program, was proven the most prodigious pugilist of them all. A scant field of four Maine-breds answered the call for the colt and geldings division, requiring an early non-betting event to be conducted for a generous $9448 purse offering. All four trotters came to the races with their maiden status firmly intact and three of them left labeled the same, but it was Cashes Ledge (Noble Venture-Rhonwen) who rolled on in confident front running fashion, to post his first career winning performance while tripping the tele-timer in a smart 2:06.2. Heath Campbell earned the first of his two Maine-bred victories while calling the shots for owner/trainer Owen Davies. T Brook Billy (G. Mosher) sat second throughout and finished just that way, while Current Connection (B. Ranger) rode the pylon path for the show. Fillies proved much more plentiful than colts on Sunday though, as 14 Maine-bred lasses split out into a pair of $9948 dashes. Pembroke Whisper completely dominated the first filly contest en route to engineering her third career victory march as Heath Campbell steered the front end course behind the daughter of Noble Venture-Spring Laughter to nail his second stakes score of the afternoon. The impressive filly is trained by Valerie Grondin for stalwart owner, William Varney. The mile, timed in 2:06.4, also featured a stirring and extended battle for runner-up honors as Noble Posey (M. Athearn) and Bisou (K. Ireland) ferociously engaged throughout the final quarter to finish second and third respectively. Saving the best for last though, the final filly split proved to be the most exciting stakes race of the afternoon, as Current Caper out dueled RT's Warrior through an epic stretch battle to preserver by mere whiskers at the wire. Driver Bruce Ranger charted the winning course for the Donald Richards trainee, who broke her maiden in a respectable 2:04.2 clocking. The Daughter of Current Cast-Ally Gal Ridge is owned in tandem by Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight. RT's Warrior (M. Athearn) was magnificent in the bridesmaid role while Sammi K (G. Mosher) finished third. Live racing resumes at 4:30 PM (EDT) on Saturday (8/24) at Scarborough Downs when the $25,000 Ricci Memorial Trot will take center stage to anchor Travers Stakes Day from Saratoga Racecourse. The Ricci Memorial, pegged as the biggest trotting event of the season in Maine, will be augmented by powerful promotions, including a $500 cash giveaway, drawings for Fall Fair Fun Pac Passes to all four of Maine's fall agricultural fairs, and a gift bag drawing after every race. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - August 3, 2019 ... The three-year-old pacing divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program concluded a month-long residency at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (8/3) as the sophomore steeds made their fourth consecutive appearance at the seaside oval, split into twin five horse fields of fillies and a mirror image arrangement of colts. Moonlightandroses claimed her third sire stakes victory of the year in the afternoon's first $9717 filly split, pouncing out of the pocket late while charting a brand new career pacing mark of 1:59.3 with customary driver Heath Campbell calling the shots. The reigning freshman champion, a daughter of Deuce Seelster-Guard The Rose, is trained by Valerie Grondin for owner Clark Bustard and has now finished either first or second in all of her 13 career starts. MaydayMaverickHope (S. Wilson) lead throughout before settling for the runner-up placing. GailsGirlInMotion (M. Athearn) rode the pylons for the show. The second $9717 filly division was won by another daughter of Deuce Seelster as JustCallMeBets struck the pike route while holding off a determined bunch at the wire to secure a brand new lifetime clocking of 2:00.3 with driver Matthew Athearn in the bike. Out of the broodmare JustCallMeRosie, the filly claimed her eighth career win for trainer Gretchen Athearn and owner William Phipps in the process. Wicked Wanda (D. Ingraham) launched a game rally from far back to earn the bridesmaid share. CominRightAtYou (R. Cushing) ended her two race win streak while settling for third. Deuce Seelster then completed a "parenting Trifecta" of sorts as another of his get, Bait A Hook, grabbed top honors in the first $9722 colt split of the afternoon. With driver David Ingraham at the helm, the win, timed in a seasonal best 1:58, was the third of the season for last year's freshman champion. Co-parented by the broodmare, Josie Plumstead, Bait A Hook gave trainer Valerie Grondin and owner Clark Bustard their second sire stakes score of the day. LucksRealDeal (M. Athearn) tracked throughout to place second while LittleBitShady (D. Campbell) was third. Inches separated the field at the wire in the second $9723 colt division as driver Gary Mosher popped CBF Bantam from the pocket in deep stretch to overtake the front running Maverick Art at the wire. Trained by David Crochere for co-owners Glen Harris and Marion Phelps, the son of Baron Biltmore-Cohenucopia secured his second consecutive Maine Sire Stakes win, this one timed in 1:59.2. Maverick Art (B. Ranger) continued his sizzling sophomore season by finishing second while Touch Of Character (S. Wilson) rallied strongly for third. The popular Sunday matinee will go to post at a special 1:00 pm post time tomorrow (8/4) as the Downs plays host to their 15th annual Family Fun Day Festival. Live harness racing will continue next week with twilight cards scheduled for 4:30 PM (EDT) on Thursday and Friday while the Downs will be dark on Saturday (8/10) as an accommodation to the Topsham Fair. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. by Mike Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs

After years of struggles, there is a glimmer of hope for the harness racing track, coming off its best financial year in a decade. Since it opened in 1950, Scarborough Downs has been the flagship of the state’s horse racing industry, once referred to as “Maine’s Showplace of Harness Racing.” But when it was sold in January 2018 to a local group of developers, it seemed to mark the final chapter for a faltering racetrack that had the look and feel of a forgotten sport. Not so fast, it turns out. There seems to be a glimmer of hope for the track and the state’s harness racing industry, which has been teetering for at least two decades. Last year, Scarborough Downs posted its first annual revenue increase since 2006. More new horses are being entered in races. And the new owners don’t seem in a hurry to end the racing there. There are still challenges ahead: The buildings need repairs, attendance is low, and many horsemen still take their horses out of state. But the future appears brighter than it has in years. “We’re still thinking that it’s going to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Rocco “Roccy” Risbara of Crossroads Holdings LLC. “We’re pleased with what they’re doing there.” Crossroads Holdings plans to turn the 500 acres off Route 1 into a mixed-used village center known as The Downs. Residential construction is underway, and an agreement has been reached to build a recreational sports complex near the track. The developers also received approval last week for a 154-acre business park. But their long-term plan has never specified what will happen to the racetrack, one of two remaining commercial harness racing tracks in the state, along with Bangor Raceway. “It would be nice to know if this place is going to be around for another 30 years,” said Beth Graffam, whose family stables 50 horses at Norton Farm in Falmouth. No one will guarantee that. There are strong indications, however, that Scarborough Downs will remain open after its lease runs out when the racing season ends in December. Risbara said his group will negotiate a lease extension with the Terry family, the former owners who continue to operate the track. And the developers are conducting a $25,000 feasibility study of the track’s aging 6,500-seat grandstand to determine what can be done to make it more attractive for other events. “We’re trying to figure out what we have and what we can do with it,” Risbara said. Members of Maine’s harness racing community – from owners and trainers to drivers – are watching these developments anxiously. Last year, the state saw its first increase in total handle – money wagered on live racing and simulcasts – in 16 years, boosted by Scarborough Downs. “Scarborough Downs is extremely important to harness racing in the state of Maine,” said Drew Campbell, a driver from Saco. “It’s make or break for a lot of people, whether they stay in the business or not. A lot of people, it’s all they know.” A woman walks through the lower grandstand at Scarborough Downs to place a wager. Live harness racing accounted for just 9 percent of the track’s handle last year. BEN MCCANNA/Portland Press Herald Scarborough Downs’ revenue increased from just over $2.1 million in 2017 to just under $2.3 million in 2018, according to Denise Terry, vice president of finance. That’s an increase of 8.5 percent, halting more than a decade of annual declines that had seen revenue plunge from $4.7 million in 2006. “It was a good year. … I felt like there was a different mood here last year,” said Terry. The track has had initial talks with the developers about extending the lease, “but nothing concrete yet,” Terry said. She expects the lease negotiations to begin before summer is over. Just two years ago, Scarborough Downs officials weren’t sure from week to week if the track would stay open. “It was very discouraging,” said Mike Sweeney, the track’s publicist and race announcer. “I’d come into work every day with the thought in my mind that I didn’t want to be the one to turn the lights out for the last time.” The racetrack appeared to get even more good news when the Maine Legislature passed a bill in June to legalize sports betting, with Scarborough Downs mentioned as a site. But Gov. Janet Mills is holding the bill, delaying its implementation. Even before she did that, Scarborough Downs officials were cautious about what passage meant to the track, offering a statement that said: “We commend the legislature for creating the opportunity to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting in Maine, as it will move the activity away from the black market and increase revenue for the state. But what this means for Scarborough Downs, at this time, is still unclear to us.” Years of revenue declines have taken a toll on the track’s appearance. Some windows in the grandstand are boarded up, fences need to be mended and walls need to be painted. The tote board, which displays the odds for each race and the winner, is hard to read because so many lights are out. The track closed, and then removed, its barns in 2016 after the Environmental Protection Agency determined that seepage from horse manure had contaminated local groundwater. The barns had provided homes to over 300 horses at one time. Last year, new televisions were installed in the lower clubhouse for simulcast racing – an investment that’s paying off. The track’s simulcast handle increased 17 percent from 2017 to 2018, from $7.4 million to $8.6 million. Simulcast wagering accounted for 91 percent of the track’s total handle. Scarborough Downs provides simulcast races in its clubhouse every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (or until the last race is completed) except Thanksgiving and Christmas, giving patrons the opportunity to bet on horse races across the United States. Betting on live harness races was down by $4,298 last year to $812,484, a decrease of less than 1 percent, according to the Maine State Harness Racing Commission. Still, it was Scarborough Downs’ best year in this decade. Since 2010, the live racing handle has dropped each year, most years by well over $100,000. But those total live handle numbers don’t tell the whole story of 2018. Sweeney said Scarborough Downs has been aided by a decrease in race days. For many years, the track had well over 100 racing days per year. Scarborough Downs officials had argued that was too many. In 2017, the state agreed and cut back the number of racing days. This year Scarborough was awarded 76 days, with racing on weekends from April to December and on Thursdays in the summer. Fewer days allows the track to offer larger purses (prize money) in its races – and larger purses attract more horses. The average purse per race went from $3,984 in 2017 to $4,942 in 2018, Sweeney said, making for more competitive races with full entries. In recent years, there were some races with just five horses. “The schedule needed to be truncated,” said Sweeney. “You can get people excited about coming to the track; you just can’t get people excited about coming to the track day after day after day.” Bettors have taken notice. Track officials said the per-race handle for live racing increased by 6 percent last year, from $1,054 per race in 2017 to $1,113 in 2018. All of this was good news for the state’s harness racing industry, which in 2018 saw the first increase in its total handle in 16 years. It was only a 2 percent increase – from $24.5 million in 2017 to $25 million in 2018 – but it reversed a downward spiral that had seen the statewide handle plunge by 63.6 percent since 2002, according to a report prepared for the Maine Harness Racing Commission by the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine. “There is a lot of optimism within the industry that there is an opportunity to right the ship and see growth in the coming years,” said Henry Jennings, executive director of the Maine Harness Racing Commission. That trend may be continuing this year. On May 4 – the busiest day on Scarborough Downs’ calendar because of the Kentucky Derby – the live racing handle at Scarborough Downs was up 21 percent from 2018, Sweeney said. The overall handle, including simulcast wagers, was up 2 percent with an estimated 2,000 fans on hand. On most days with live racing, however, there are maybe a few hundred patrons at the track, many absorbed in simulcast racing on the TV screens. Few people gather on benches outside close to the track. On Derby Day, however, many of the patrons were lined along the fence at the edge of the track. “The crowd is the main thing,” said Maguire Sowers, a 19-year-old driver from New Brunswick who lives in Windsor. “The more people you have, the better it is. As you saw (on Derby Day), it was outrageous. And it’s nice when you make the turn for home in the stretch and you’ve got a horse in the lead and you hear the crowd screaming and cheering. That’s what it’s all about.” It’s a far cry from the 1970s and 1980s, when Scarborough Downs routinely had bustling crowds, including a record attendance of 9,133 on June 29, 1980, when actor Lou Ferrigno was on hand to sign autographs, according to Sweeney. By the 1990s, the crowds had dwindled and the track stopped charging admission and keeping attendance figures. And when Scarborough Downs stopped night racing in 2007 – the light posts had to be removed after the hub rail was removed for safety reasons – the crowds thinned out even more. That forced the track to close its 400-seat restaurant, which now is only open three times a year (for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes). Funds from the Bangor Raceway casino, approved by state voters in a 2003 referendum, have helped to keep the state’s horse racing industry afloat. Ten percent of the funds go toward purses while 4 percent goes directly to the racetracks. Still, the decades-long decline in wagering at Scarborough Downs led to smaller purses, causing many owners and trainers to race their horses out of state, such as at Plainridge Park in southeastern Massachusetts. “They do an absolute five-star, first-class job there,” said Campbell, who won his 5,000th career race earlier this year. “They have a lot of things that they don’t have (at Scarborough Downs).” Plainridge, which includes a casino, opened 20 years ago, one of five harness racing tracks in America to open since 1999. Conversely, 16 harness racing tracks have closed during that time. Plainridge’s purses often exceed $15,000. Campbell races there three days a week and at Scarborough on weekends. State Rep. Don Marean, an independent from Hollis, was a horse owner and breeder in Maine for 35 years but got out of the business because of its uncertainty. He said horsemen will invest in more horses if they have assurances about Scarborough Downs’ future. “We need a plan so we can move forward,” said Marean, treasurer of the U.S. Trotting Association, the national body that oversees harness racing. “The industry will make a comeback once we have something in place that we’re going to be around for a while.” The uncertainty surrounding Scarborough Downs isn’t anything new. “It’s been going on for a very long time, since the late 1980s,” said Todd DuBois, a second-generation horse trainer from Scarborough. No one is expecting a return to the glory days, but there are encouraging signs for Scarborough Downs. Sweeney noted that of the 168 horses that raced in Scarborough on Kentucky Derby weekend, 57 did not race in Maine a year earlier. Those associated with the industry see other positive aspects. Mike Cushing, president of the Maine Harness Horseman’s Association, said he sees more owners and breeders getting involved. “Every facet of the industry is in an upward tick,” he said. People who work in the industry realize they need to appeal to a younger crowd to keep it alive. “If you have been to a track, you recognize the demographic is a bit on the elderly side,” said Jennings.”We have recognized that it’s vitally important to attract younger fans. … It’s a challenge, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable.” Scarborough Downs has pushed hard on social media, with accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The Maine Harness Racing Commission spent $10,000 on advertising in 2017. This year, Jennings said, it has $170,000 to spend. If the positives continue, Risbara said there is no rush to close the track. He said the entire development project is expected to take 30 to 40 years. “We’ll keep developing and eventually we’ll figure out what makes sense for the racetrack portion of the site,” he said. “As we start to get occupancies and people living there, it may help (the track). It certainly won’t hurt them, getting people around.” By MIKE LOWE Reprinted with permission of the Portland Press Herald

Scarborough, Maine - July 28, 2019 ... The three-year-old trotting divisions of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes made their first appearance at Scarborough Downs on Sunday 7/28) after four consecutive weeks spent on the northern harness racing circuit at Bangor Raceway. The filly division split evenly into twin five-horse fields, each racing for identical $9709 purses and the streaking sensation, Just Enuf Sass, wasted precious little time in continuing her sophomore stakes dominance, whipping off her fourth consecutive victory march while cruising, in-hand, to a 6-3/4 length romp. Trained by Joseph Flynn, the impressive daughter of Boy Band-Sassy's Child stopped the clock in a leisurely 2:01.4, with Wallace Watson catch driving for the ownership tandem of Joseph and Edward Flynn. Winning Wind (M. Athearn) finished second while Lady Victoria (I. Davies) was third. Pembroke Vicki claimed top honors in the other filly split as she rode the front-end journey to her third stakes win of the season with Heath Campbell driving for trainer Valerie Grondin. Owned by William Varney, the daughter of Noble Venture-Spring Laughter has now finished either first or second in all five of her sophomore stakes appearances. Buena Vita Bebe (R. Cushing) rallied late to secure the runner-up placing while Kate At The Cup (G. Mosher) settled for third. On the boys' side of the equation, nine colts and geldings were programmed into one $10,682 field with eight scoring behind the gate and one relegated to the second tier. Undeterred by the trailing assignment though, Ally Way Cast nailed his second stakes win in row with veteran driver Gary Mosher calling the shots for Hall of Fame trainer, Donald Richards. Ally Way Cast, last year's freshman sire stakes champion is a son of Current Cast-Ally Gal Ridge and is owned in partnership by Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight. Spot On Gone (I. Davies) recovered from a break behind the gate to finish second while SaltPondNic (D. Ingraham) grabbed the show dough. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Saturday (8/3) when the three-year-old pacing divisions take to the raceway. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinee will go to post at a special 1:00 pm starting time next weekend as the Downs plays host to their 15th annual Family Fun Day Festival. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 27, 2019 ... The two-year-old harness racing pacing divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program took center stage at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (7/27) with twin five-horse splits of freshman fillies contesting purses of $9561 and $9562 respectively, while the colts divided out into two races of their own; a field of five going for $9592 while a six horse field garnered a $9692 share. Veteran driver/trainer John Nason sent a pair of ferocious fillies to the gate and their dominant performances soon became the story of the day. First, Western Jane Doe proved relentless in earning her first career winner's circle appearance, claiming the lead from the word "Go" and refusing to relinquish that advantage despite numerous overland challenges. Nason charted the winning course for co-owners Carolyn Corso and Lynn-Marie Plouffe, steering the daughter of Western Maverick-B Passionate to a one-length margin at the wire, timed in 2:01.2. Shes A Fireball (R. Cushing) overcame an early break to rally into the runner-up spot while Two Moods (Ivan Davies) applied persistent overland pressure throughout the third panel before settling for third. Nason then doubled his Maine Sire Stakes pleasure, claiming top honors in the second filly split with Maverick Fiber. The daughter of Western Maverick-Fiber Art won in-hand by a 3-3/4 length measure while breaking her maiden timed in 2:01 as owner Carolyn Corso's roster completed a day of domination in the filly portion of the stakes program. JustCallMeMinnie (M. Athearn) was second while ProudAmericanGirl (S. Thayer) finished third. The boys managed to spread the accolades around a bit more as Wesley Snoops tasted victory for the very first time in his career while impressively making every pole a winning one. Driver/trainer Ivan Davies proved masterful in the sulky, guiding the low-headed son of Western Maverick-Secure Hanover to an under wraps 2-1/2 length margin while stopping the clock in an unhurried 2:00.4. Wesley Snoops was bred and is owned by Nancy Longobardi of Norfolk, Ma. The Leaping Cowboy (M. Athearn) sat the pocket trip while finishing second and Pembroke Ranger, likewise, saved ground to snag third. The second division saw Clairmont continue his rampage through the early portion of the freshman stakes season, remaining undefeated while earning his second consecutive stakes victory from only two lifetime starts. Driver Ron Cushing guided the son of Western Maverick-Unknown Artist to an easy 8-3/4 length jiggy-jog, coasting to the wire timed in a career best 2:01. Clairmont is trained by Heidi Gibbs for co-owners Kevin Sywyk and Ronald Cushing. Run Around John (N. Graffam) rallied for the bridesmaid share while Mister Puzzles (R. Humphrey) finished third. In other action, driver Nick Graffam held the hot hand at the Downs on Saturday, teaming five winners down Victory Lane and at one point scoring four wins in a row. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Sunday as the three-year-old trotters take center stage. Post time for Sunday's card is slated for 1:30 pm (EDT) with a pair of non-betting Maine Sire Stakes races scheduled to go to post at 12:30 pm. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 19, 2019 ... The races scheduled for Saturday July 20th have been cancelled due to the expected high heat indices caused by the heat wave that is bearing down on the east coast this weekend. This decision was reached in joint consultation with represents of the track, the Maine Harness Racing Commission, the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, The Maine Harness Horsemen's Association, as well as members of the veterinarian community who all agreed that proceeding with the Saturday card would present unacceptable risks to the participants. At this point, live harness racing is scheduled to resume on Sunday (7/21), weather permitting. The four dashes of three-old-old Maine Sire Stakes originally drawn as part of Saturday's cancelled card will be raced as non-betting events beginning at 11:30 AM (EDT) with the eleven-race pari-mutuel program getting underway at 1:30 PM. A decision regarding the viability of Sunday's card will be made early in the weekend if forecasts continue to predict unacceptable heat indices heading into Sunday. Please refer to the Scarborough Downs Facebook page for further updates. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 18, 2019 ... Bruce Ranger pieced together a remarkable performance on Thursday (7/18) as the veteran harnes racing driver and "comeback kid" won six consecutive races at Scarborough Downs while completely dominating the nine race mid-week card. The fans, apparently sensing an epic performance in the making, sent Ranger to the gate as the post time favorite in all nine of his appearances, but their faith in the state of Maine native pilot did not begin paying dividends until the Ranger rampage was set loose in the fourth, as he guided Smart Balance through a gate-to-wire victory march for trainer Nicole Hardy. The juggernaut continued with a 1:57.2 score behind a headstrong Shrinkwrap (the second training win of the day for Hardy); Tricia Star (the fifth consecutive win for the Aaron Hall trainee); Plus One (the fourth consecutive win for the Buddy Burke trainee); Pop A Top Pop (one of two wins on the card for trainer Eric Davis); and concluded with San Antony-O (the 63rd career victory for the 14-year-old veteran pacer). Ranger, who is in the midst of his first full season back at the races after coming out of retirement in October of 2018, passed the 9000 career win plateau just last month at Bangor Raceway and sits as the third leading state of Maine native in career wins, trailing only Billy Parker, Jr (11,311) and Walter Case, Jr (11,049). After his six-pack performance on Thursday, Ranger now resides in third place on the Scarborough Downs leader's board with 37 seasonal scores, just 2 wins back of Kevin Switzer, Jr who resides in second place and 14 wins shy of the perennial powerhouse, Drew Campbell, who leads the driving colony at the Downs with 51 top tallies. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 13, 2019 ... A large and enthusiastic crowd packed the stands on a picture perfect day at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (7/13) as a determined group of big league harness racing pacers converged on the raceway to do battle in the $25,000 renewal of the Mid-Summer Classic The field was headed by Bettors Fire N, the morning line favorite, who was bidding to add the Mid-Summer Classic title to his win in The Dirigo Pace earlier this season, thus laying claim to the laurels from both of Scarborough's 2019 premier invitational pacing events - A sturdy, steadied, assemblage of warrior steeds however, were determined to stand in his way. The opening salvo was fired just as soon as the starter released the field when Zack Lee and driver Dan Deslandes gunned off the car in search of their customary front line assault. That maneuver was countered though as Kevin Switzer, Jr took full advantage of an unexpectedly wide open rail to launch their own campaign toward an early advantage, while heavily favored Bettors Fire N and driver Ron Cushing complicated matters as they joined the early fracas in a three wide flanking move. The hard charging trio reached the quarter pole with the tele-timer announcing a sizzling :26.3 opening clocking. Bettors Fire N, hard used to the top, then got a bit of a breather while piking to the half in 56.2 with StormyWeatherAhead breathing right down Cushing's neck. Drew Campbell, ever the strategizing general, then pulled Quick Shot to engage the pacesetter as the field rambled past the 5/8th-mile marker while the persistent pressure brought the tandem to the 3/4-mile station timed in a brisk 1:25.1. The pair then raced in lockstep to the head of the lane. Down the stretch they thundered and as they turned for home, StormyWeatherAhead engineered a sneak attack up the pylons to form a three-wide cavalry charge to the wire. Despite his well executed battle plan, Bettor's Fire N soon found himself flanked on either side by ferocious combatants. When the dust had settled and the battle done, it was Bettors Fire N claiming the major spoils by a scant 3/4-length over Quick Shot who just nosed out StormyWeatherAhead for the place, as the tele-timer documented the epic, proclaiming a stellar 1:54 final clocking. The win marked the 50th career victory lap for Bettors Fire, an 11-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Sparks A Flyin who is trained by Heidi Gibbs for the ownership tandem of Kevin Sywyk, Ron Cushing and Frank Ranaldi. He is next expected to link up with forces in the northern Maine theatre, to contest supremacy in Bangor Raceway's Paul Bunyan Pace on July 19th. Next up on the Scarborough Downs invitational scene though will be the $25,000 Joseph Ricci Memorial Trot slated to be contested at the seaside oval on Saturday August 24th. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 13, 2019 ... The Maine Sire Stakes made their second seasonal appearance at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (7/13) as the harness racing three-year-old pacing divisions, featuring twin splits for both the fillies and colts, co-anchored an extremely strong Mid-Summer Classic Day card. LucksRealDeal doubled his pleasure in the first colt division, grabbing the lion's share of the $9948 purse while scoring his second consecutive win in Maine Sire Stakes competition. Guided confidently off the car by driver Matthew Athearn, the son of Luckcammotion-Deal With Life maintained a comfortable margin over his closest rival throughout the mile before gliding to an 8-1/4 length romp at the wire, the effort timed in a career best 1:58.2. LucksRealDeal is trained by Marc Tardif who co-owns the gelding in partnership with Leighton Property. Just Chief (M. Sowers) rallied for second while Heza Deuce (B. Ranger) settled for third. Maverick Art continued his season long demonstration of blossoming ability, scoring his fourth career victory in the $9947 second division of colts. Steered with determination toward the early lead by driver Bruce Ranger - after the prohibitive favorite, Bait A Hook rolled off stride behind the gate - Maverick Art dug in gamely to repel all challenges before gliding to a comfortable 2-1/4 length margin timed in a lifetime best 1:57.1. Un-raced as a freshman, the impressive colt, a son of Western Maverick-Fiber Art, is trained by Adam Gray for owner Kenneth Piper. CBF Bantam (G. Mosher) threw in a game rally bid to secure the bridesmaid's share while Victoria's Maverick (H. Campbell) was third. The first $9717 division of fillies featured a battle of razor sharp pacers as both MoonLightAndRoses and MayDayMaverickHope putting their seasonal sire stakes unbeaten streaks on the line. The battle was rather short lived though as driver Steven Wilson hand drove MayDayMaverickHope to an uncontested early lead, gaining an advantage which they never relinquished. The daughter of Western Maverick-Summer Hope, who is trained by Charlene Cushing for owner Darrell Tibbetts, recorded her third victory from only five career starts, all wins coming sequentially, with this one timed in a career best 2:00.2. MoonLightAndRoses (H. Campbell) rallied three wide off the final turn to grab the place while JustCallMeBets (M. Athearn) secured the show. The second $9717 filly division drew out into a field of five pacers which were all winless on the season as the more accomplished campaigners grouped into a separate split by the mere luck of the draw. CominRightAtYou and driver Ron Cushing took full advantage of that happy circumstance by choosing the pike route toward Victory Lane. The victory did not come without perils though as they were forced to withstand a determined overland challenge from Wicked Wanda (D.Ingraham) through the final quarter, and then further withstand a judge's inquiry after Wicked Wanda rolled off stride as they veered wide off the pylons at the head of the lane. When the dust had settled, the daughter of Western Maverick-Express Ball N persevered though, scoring her first seasonal win for trainer Heidi Gibbs and owners Kevin Sywyk and Ron Cushing, in a career best 2:00 flat. Cranky (R. Lanpher III) rode the pylons for the runner-up placing while We Love Western (J. Nason) finished third. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 12, 2019 ... Big League harness racing returns to Scarborough Downs on Saturday (7/13) as the 70-year-old southern Maine racing venue plays host to the $25,000 Mid-Summer Classic Invitational - The biggest race of the 2019 harness racing season. Post time for the eleven race racing card, which will co-feature four divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program, is slated for 4:30 pm (EDT). Last year's Mid-Summer Classic saw JJs Jet and driver Drew Campbell set a new track record of 1:52.3, erasing the longtime standard of 1:52.4 that was established in the 1993 edition of the Presidents Pace by Hotrod Falcon and Walter Case, Jr. This year's field appears fully capable of surpassing that effort. Bettors Fire N, the winner of over $810K and 49 races in his career, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. When last seen at the Downs in June, he claimed victory in the Dirigo Pace Invitational, timed in a sizzling 1:53, just 2/5th of a second off the overall track record. Driven by Ron Cushing, he will score from post four. Calvin B will truck up from Saratoga Raceway as state of Maine native trainer, Jimmy Nickerson, makes a homecoming appearance. This razor sharp pacer with a lifetime mark of 1:49.2 will be handled by Nickerson's nephew and regular Scarborough Downs driver, Matthew Athearn, and will score from the coveted rail position. StormyWeatherAhead, a 2019 Maine Sire Stakes divisional champion, will make his first state of Maine appearance of the year for trainer Marc Tardif. The four-year-old Maine-bred sits just three races removed from establishing a lifetime speed record of 1:52.2 at Plainridge Racecourse and will be driven by Kevin Switzer, Jr from post number two. Zack Lee, a 12-time winner already this season, will score from post number three for driver/trainer Dan Deslandes. Capable of stepping off the starting gate in the blink of an eye, this veteran pacer figures to ensure honest fractions, much as he did in his runner-up performance in June's Dirigo Pace. Quick Shot trucks up from Plainridge Racecourse for owner/trainer Kathleen Brewer and will be piloted from post five by Scarborough's leading driver, Drew Campbell. With career earnings in excess of $350K and a lifetime speed record of 1:50.4, this veteran campaigner has now finished runner-up in 5 of his last 8 starts versus top level metropolitan talent. In addition to top flight racing action, the fans will have an opportunity to win concert tickets, a gas grill, and other great prizes during giveaway drawings held after every race on the card. Prizes for this promotion were provided by the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association. An exciting interactive display called the Virtual Reality Driving Experience will be available in the grandstand facility during the entire program, giving fans the chance feel the thrills of driving in a harness race through a cutting edge VR simulation. A $7.00 BBQ chicken dinner along with other gastric specialties will be proudly served up in the Grandstand Grill. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - July 6, 2019 ... The horse of the Maine Sire Stakes program made their first local appearance of the 2019 season on Saturday (7/6) as the harness racing fillies and colts of three-year-old pacing divisions came to match strides at Scarborough Downs. Two splits of each gender went to post on the sultry summer afternoon with total stakes purses of $39,329 doled out to the combatants. The girls were first to take to the raceway as Moonlightandroses powered through a determined front end journey to claim victory in the first $9717 filly split. The daughter of Deuce Seelster-Guard The Rose served serious notice to the other ladies assembled that she remains fully determined and capable of defending her 2018 freshman Maine Sire Stakes crown as driver Heath Campbell steered the Valerie Grondin trainee to her second consecutive win in as many seasonal starts. Owned by Clark Bustard of Elmwood, NB, Moonlighandroses paced her mile timed in 2:01.1. Cominrightatyou (R.Cushing) fell just 1-1/4 lengths back at the wire to settle for the place while Gailsgirl N Motion (M. Athearn) finished third. The sultry afternoon transformed itself into a deluge event as the skies opened up while the field assembled for the second filly grouping of the day. The torrential downpour did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm espoused by the backers of Maydaymaverickhope though, as she rallied aggressively to secure her second consecutive Maine Sire Stakes score. Guided by regular pilot Steven Wilson, the Charlene Cushing trainee survived a driver's objection lodged by Mark Athearn, driver of the eventual second place finishing Justcallme Bets, who alleged that Maydaymaverickhope crossed over before the start. The judges disallowed the objection citing insufficient evidence for placings. The daughter of Western Maverick-Summer Hope who is owned by Darrell Tibbetts of Livermore, Maine paced her mile in 2:03.3 over a track which quickly became soggy while the race progressed. Justcallme Bets (M. Athearn) was second while Cranky (R. Lanpher III) rode the pylons for a decent show dough effort. The boys then took to a track which had been downgraded to muddy, as the first of twin splits of the sophomore colt division was contested for a purse of $9747, and as streams formed in the infield, a pacer named Bait A Hook wasted precious little time casting for the lead with veteran teamster David Ingraham serving as the angler. The son of Deuce Seelster-Josie Plumstead, holder of the 2018 Maine Sire Stakes freshman crown, piked twice around the oval to remain a perfect two-for-two on the current season, while delivering trainer Valerie Grondon and owner Clark Bustard their second sire stakes victory of the afternoon. Maverick Art (B. Ranger) settled for the bridesmaid share, finishing a scant 3/4-length back of the eventual winner while CBF Bantam (G. Mosher) executed an extended rally maneuver to claim third place honors. The second $9948 colt division saw Lucksrealdeal rifled off the car by driver Matthew Athearn. Insisting on a front end journey, the duo gained an advantage which was never relinquished as the Marc Tardiff trainee scored the first win of his sophomore season in a respectable 2:00 clocking, given the wet track condition. The son of Luckcamotion-Deal With Life is owned in tandem by the team of Marc Tardif and Leighton Property. Victoria's Maverick (H. Campbell), coupled in the pari-mutuels due to common ownership, rallied strongly to finish a hard charging runner-up while Touch Of Character (S. Wilson) finished third best. Maine Sire Stakes racing returns to the Downs on Saturday July 13th, serving as the co-anchor featured attraction alongside the $25,000 Mid-Summer Classic, the biggest invitational pacing event on the Scarborough Downs calendar. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - July 4, 2019 ... While the rest of the nation prepared to enjoy patriotic pyrotechnic displays on the Fourth of July holiday, the fans at Scarborough Downs were treated to fireworks of a totally different nature as harness racing driver David Ingraham sizzled through a three win performance en route to scoring the 7500th driving win of an amazing career. Ever the family man, Ingraham secured the milestone win with a veteran campaigner named Jay Bees Grin N who is fittingly enough co-owned by his daughter Kelsie Case Ingraham. The win, a milestone for the racehorse too, was the 40th career victory for the 11-year-old standardbred. A native of Lewiston, Maine, Ingraham cut his teeth along the Pine Tree Circuit before becoming a kingpin at Yonkers Raceway and then later PompanoPark. In recent years, Ingraham and his wife Kelly Case split time between winter campaigns at Pompano and summer sojourns in their native state of Maine, much to the delight of their loyal fans at both locales. Live harness racing is featured three day a week at Scarborough Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - June 8, 2019 ... When last seen at Scarborough Downs, harness racing driver Drew Campbell was busy piecing together a dominant six-win performance last Sunday, an effort that left the man in orange and black six wins shy of registering the 5000th victory lap of his prodigious career. After a week spent campaigning at Bangor Raceway and Plainridge Park, Campbell fittingly reappeared at the Downs, the venue where he has enjoyed the majority of his successes, needing just one win more to cross the magical threshold. With drives in ten of Saturday's (6/8) twelve races, Campbell seemed destined to record the benchmark win in front of the home fans, but he dramatically kept the large Belmont Stakes Day crowd in a general state of suspense until breaking through to the winner's ranks with an eighth race victory behind a recent Maritimes import named Woodmere Nightlife. Campbell, whose lineage is also steeped in the harness racing traditions of the Maritimes, sat off the pace with his charge before tipping three-deep up the backstretch and powering to an open length romp, as the fans roared their approval. A perennial powerhouse at the Downs and a regular contender for the North American UDR Championship, Campbell, who counts multiple local driving championships among his accomplishments, was joined in the winners circle by a multitude of his fellow drivers and horsemen, as is the tradition in Maine, to celebrate his latest accomplishment. Drew Campbell wasn't the only headliner on the Scarborough Downs card on Saturday as a trio of Invitational class events were carded, charged with the goal of showcasing the crème de la crème of the local harness scene in front of the large crowd expected on Belmont Stakes Day. The goal was surely exceeded when driver Ron Cushing steered Bettors Fire N to a brilliant victory in the $10,000 renewal of the historic Dirigo Pace, stopping the clock in blistering 1:53, while equaling the third fastest mile ever recorded in the 70 year history of Scarborough Downs. The effort was just 2/5th of a second off the all time track record recorded by JJs Jet (D. Campbell) in the 2018 edition of the Mid-Summer Classic and just 1/5th off the only other horse to ever eclipse the 1:53 mark, Hotrod Falcon (W. Case, Jr) who set the longtime overall standard in 1993's Presidents Pace. Zack Lee (D. Deslandes) who set torrid fractions throughout the mile placed second while All Artist (D. Campbell) rallied for third. Bettors Fire N Not content with a mere one win day, Cushing continued his domination of the local invitational scene on Saturday, scoring a convincing victory in the $10,000 Shady Sabrina Distaff with ShezSugarSweet A, who stepped away to a zippy 1:57.1 top-class score. The win was the 7th of the season for the Heidi Gibbs trained mare who now boasts 4 wins and 4 runner-up placings from her last eight starts, all coming since rejoining the New England circuit in mid-April. Western Stepp (D. Campbell) settled for the bridesmaid share after cutting reasonable fractions, while Amethyst Seelster (D. Deslandes) finished third. ShezSugarSweet A A Maine-bred trotter claimed top honors in the inaugural edition of the $10,000 Obrigado Trot, as Pembroke Castaway and driver Heath Campbell expertly controlled the tempo and tenor while piking the course and eking out a narrow final advantage over a hard charging Cherry Crown Jewel (M. Athearn) who fell a mere neck short at the wire. Northern Skyway (B. Ranger) finished third. Named for a native-bred trotter who went undefeated in Maine Sire Stakes action and then went on to make a name for himself in major North American stakes, the Obrigado Invitational produced a mile that was timed in 1:57.2, just 2/5th of a second off Scarborough's overall track record. Pembroke Castaway Live harness racing now expands out to a three day a week format at the Downs with 4:30 pm (EDT) twilight cards slated for Thursdays and Saturdays while the popular Sunday matinees go to post at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs    

Drew Campbell put on a clinic of harness driving prowess on Sunday (6/2) winning 6 races on the 10 race program while inching closer to the latest milestone in his sights - Membership into the 5000 career win club. The perennial powerhouse and current leading driver at Scarborough Downs now sits with 4994 lifetime trips down Victory Lane and with a full slate of drives at Plainridge Park and Bangor Raceway scheduled for the coming week, chances are that Campbell will become enshrined as Mr 5000 well before live racing returns to the Downs next weekend. En route to claiming victory in the first five races on the card, Campbell opened the day with a 1:54 front-running score behind Lioness Hanover who, in the process, registered the fastest win time of the 2019 Scarborough Downs meet. He followed that speedy trip up with a pair of off-the-pace journeys with Explosiveafternoon (2:02) and Western Stepp (1:56.4), before returning to the pike-route strategy with the 14-year-old Anderlecht (1:56.3) and CJ Marshall (1:58). Campbell then reverted to the rally-method to secure Thomas B Hanover’s (1:58) third career victory to close out his phenomenal six-pack performance. Live harness racing will resume on Saturday (6/8) at Scarborough Downs with a special 2:00 pm (EDT) post time on the Belmont Stakes Day program. The card will feature three $10,000 invitational events; the renewal of the historic Dirigo Pace, The Shady Sabrina Distaff Pace and The Obrigado Trot, all leading up to the simulcast of thoroughbred racing’s third jewel of the Triple Crown season. Buffet dining will be available in the elegant Downs Club Restaurant for $21 (inclusive) on Belmont Stakes Day and reservations are recommended. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

SCARBOROUGH, Maine, April 29, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The Downs development team, Crossroads Holdings LLC, today announces that ESG Associates Inc., a company specializing in recreational developments, has signed an agreement to pursue an athletic venue at The Downs. The Scarborough facility could include pools, ice rinks, indoor and outdoor fields, spectator areas, and other activity space. Currently, EDGE Sports Group (ESG) is conducting a feasibility study to determine what type of amenities should be included within The Downs facility. "This is particularly exciting for us because we've long known that our community wants these types of athletic and recreational amenities," says developer Roccy Risbara. "The Town is pleased with the progress of The Downs project, particularly the accelerated pace of the non-residential buildout," says Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall. "The involvement of the Edge Sports Group and the construction of a commercial recreation center could serve as a catalyst to anchor the downtown portion of the project. We are eager to participate in the feasibility analysis and see if there is an opportunity for the project to meet the long-standing recreation needs of the community," Hall says. Founded in 2008, Massachusetts-based ESG has consulted on and created athletic venues, sports programs and organized league play throughout New England. The company creates "sports ecosystems" that are geared to meet the unique recreational goals of communities and deliver on unmet needs. "Greater Portland is a growing region and is currently underserved in this capacity. We see a bright future for this type of athletic complex in Scarborough," says Brian DeVellis, President of ESG Associates, Inc. "We look forward to this process and plan to design something specific to the recreational needs of the community and the region," DeVellis says. In early 2018, two lifelong Scarborough families purchased the 500-acre property at Scarborough Downs. Two sets of brothers – William, Marc and Rocco Risbara III, of Risbara Bros., and Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors, purchased this property for $6.7M, after it had been on the market for nearly two decades. The vision for the project is to create a mixed-use community that provides the right balance between residential, commercial and light industrial development in Scarborough. The master plan for The Downs preserves 200-acres of open space and creates ten-miles of recreational trails and sidewalks that will carry pedestrians from one end of the property to the other. The center of the project will be anchored by a downtown district, where the sports complex will be located. This venue will not disrupt or displace harness racing at Scarborough Downs, instead could act as a catalyst to increase visitors to the track. The first phase of residential development at The Downs is underway, which includes 30 single-family homes, 48 condominiums and 48 apartment units. Within weeks, more than 50-percent of the units were sold or under contract. A residential-scale memory care facility will also be under construction later this year as part of this area. The second phase of development, the Innovation District is designed to attract light industrial, technology, manufacturing and retail end-users. This part of the project recently received preliminary subdivision approval from the Town's Planning Board. Development will begin this July, following final State and local approvals. ESG intends to complete its due diligence this summer, with design and permitting immediately following. The facility could be open in Spring 2021. PR Newswire

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